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2021-22 Board Meeting Minutes » March 7, 2022

March 7, 2022

Summary of Board Meeting Minutes for March 7, 2022
The Board of Education of the Wilkes County Administrative Unit conducted a regular meeting in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom on Monday, March 7, 2022, at 5:30 PM at 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina 28659.
Present for the meeting were Chairman Mr. Randall “Rudy” Holbrook, Vice-Chairman Mrs. Sharron Huffman, and Board Members, Mr. Kirk Walker and Mrs. Joan Caudill. Absent was Mr. Hardin Kennedy III. Also attending were Superintendent Mr. D. Mark Byrd, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Westley Wood, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Finance Officer Mr. Seth Prevette, Chief Technology Officer Mrs. Julie Triplett, Director of Pre-K and Elementary Education Mrs. Callie Grubb, Director of Child Nutrition Mr. Marty Johnson, Director of Secondary Education/Athletics/and School Safety Mr. David Johnson, Executive Director of Federal Programs/Career & Technical Education Dr. Joe Bullis, Director of Exceptional Children Mrs. Jennifer Blankenship, Public Information Officer Mrs. Morgan Mathis, and Executive Administrative Assistant Mr. Carolyn Triplett. Guests included Wilkes County Law Enforcement.
Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook called the meeting to order.
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the agenda needed to be amended to include to Roman Number V, Item F, the recognition of National Athletic Trainers Month.    
On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the agenda was approved as presented.
Chairman Mr. Randall "Rudy" Holbrook recognized Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd for the Superintendent's Welcome and Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Byrd made the following statement.
"Sometimes when you are facing challenging situations, it is nice to reflect back on where you have been and see how far you have come. Most of us can continue to push forward when we see that we are making progress, so I want us to reflect on where we were one year ago today.  On March 7, 2021, students in grades 6-12 in Wilkes County Schools were still operating on the A/B schedule, as we were not told until March 10 that all students could return. We met in a Special Called Meeting on March 17 and decided that all students in grades 6-12 would return to Plan A on Wednesday, March 24, 2022. When students returned, they still had to wear masks, dine in classrooms, and go through COVID screening upon arriving. Those students who did not feel comfortable returning to school still had the option of attending virtual. I think we had just finished either the second or third week of football season, and track, baseball and softball were not to start until April 26."
"If you want to look even further back, go back to this time in 2020. March 7, 2020 was on a Saturday, and we had a great week planned ahead. Merlefest 2020 was cancelled the following week, and we went home on Friday, March 13 wondering what the next week would hold. Two years and seven days ago, on Saturday, March 14, Governor Cooper closed schools in NC, and our students did not return until August. So two years ago, we were all facing a challenge and situation that none of us had ever imagined, could hardly believe, and we didn't have a clue what to expect! I hope we never go back to the challenges we were facing at that time."
"I share all of this to make this point: Things are not perfect right now, and we are all facing challenging situations. Society is on edge, gas prices are headed toward an all-time high, and there is a lot of unrest in our world. However, we have so much to be thankful for and to be happy about, and we are so much better off than we were two years ago or even a year ago. Look back at what we have been through and be proud of how we have met the challenge. And when things get tough, and we know they will, think about the challenges you have already met and what a great job you have done throughout two years of a pandemic. Keep in mind, people have not seen challenges like we faced in over 100 years. And, once you start to feel better about what we have accomplished, share those positive thoughts and opinions with someone around you, as a lot of people in our current society need those positive thoughts. We helped each other through crazy challenges over the past two years, now let's help each other with the challenges of life after a pandemic!"

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the NCHSAA State Championships. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) held the 1A/2A Track & Field State Championship at JDL Indoor Fast Track Facility in Winston-Salem on February 11th.
Congratulations to Abigail Tully from Wilkes Central High School who placed first in the state in women's pole vault. This was her second state title after winning the 2A outdoor pole vault in June of last year.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to recognize the North Carolina Senior Beta Club Convention Winners. The North Carolina Senior Beta Club Convention took place on January 28th. Beta holds annual state conventions in 18 states, both for Senior and Junior Beta divisions, and winners of these state events go on to compete on a national level. Activities range from academic contests to quiz bowls to talent competitions. Conventions give members the opportunity to interact, share project ideas, and showcase their academic and leadership abilities.
Wilkes Early College High School had two students place in the top of their competitions at the North Carolina Senior Beta Club Convention. Congratulations to Gabriel Walsh for winning first place in 11th Grade Social Studies, and congratulations to Benjamin Anderson for winning first place in Division II Recyclable Art!

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the participant of the Microsoft Office Specialist U.S. National Championship presented by Certiport, Inc. Students from across the United States are entered into a competition as they take Microsoft Certification Exams.
Congratulations to Isabel Molnar from Wilkes Central High School for receiving an invitation to participate in the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) US National Championship based on her score on the Microsoft Excel Certification Exam. Isabel is one of 6 students in North Carolina receiving an invitation for the fall qualifying round. The first place champion at the national level will receive $3,000 and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce the 2021-2022 Beginning Teacher of the Year for advancing as a finalist. The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) recently announced the finalists for the 2022 Prudential NC Beginning Teacher of the Year Award. Teachers from across North Carolina were selected as finalists in honor of their dedication, innovation, and ability to inspire students to achieve.
Congratulations to Wilkes County Schools 2021-2022 Beginning Teacher of the Year, Ms. Brooke Bentley, who was chosen as a finalist for the 2022 Prudential NC Beginning Techer of the Year Award! All finalists will receive travel expenses to participate in NCCAT professional development and leadership development.

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to recognize the NCSPRA Blue Ribbon Awards. On February 11th, the North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA) held its annual Blue Ribbon Awards celebration. Ken Derksen, NCSPRA President, said the work of the award winners exemplifies the high standards and qualities members demonstrate in their daily school communications programs. "Blue Ribbon Awards are among the highest and most prestigious honors that a member of our organization can attain. These awards highlight the superior work being accomplished in the area of school communications and all that our members are doing to support and promote public schools across North Carolina," Derksen said.
Wilkes County Schools was one of 37 school districts statewide to receive a Blue Ribbon Award. Public Information Officer, Morgan Mathis, was awarded 10 Blue Ribbon Awards on behalf of Wilkes County Schools for outstanding and effective communications. Mrs. Mathis received 6 gold level awards, 3 silver level awards, and 1 bronze level award in the categories of Marketing, Photography, Special Events & Programs, Image/Graphic Design, Publications, Digital Media Engagement, and Electronic Media. The judges praised the work as "unique, engaging, and very well done." Mrs. Mathis received the most Blue Ribbon Awards of any school district in our region. Congratulations!

Superintendent Mr. Mark Byrd recognized Dr. Westley Wood, Assistant Superintendent, to announce National Athletic Trainers Month. The Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Athletic Training Outreach Program is proud to deliver high quality athletic training services to the student athletes of Wilkes County high schools. Certified athletic trainers are medical providers involved in the prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries resulting from physical activity. Athletic trainers are recognized by the American Medical Association as allied healthcare providers in the field of sports medicine. All certified athletic trainers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited athletic training program and have passed a national competency exam administered by the National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification. Certified athletic trainers must also be licensed in the state of North Carolina and work under the direction of a physician.
The primary services rendered to your student athletes include: prevention, acute recognition and immediate care of sports related injuries, recognition of when referral to medical practitioner is warranted, and collaboration with the healthcare team to ensure optimal rehabilitation, recovery, and return to sport for all athletes. By working with athletic trainers, everyone involved in the continuum of care of student-athletes, from physicians to coaches to administrators and parents, can feel confident that a professional is caring for the health and safety of young women and men. Athletic trainer services include daily medical coverage at each high school for injury evaluation, injury management, and return to play for the athletes. Injury prevention is a big part of how athletes stay safe on the field. Also provided is game coverage for home activities to cheer on the teams and give immediate care for athletes when and if they become injured. Having a licensed athletic trainer available for emergency situations ensures athletes receive the highest standards of care when they need it.
We would like to recognize and honor the athletic trainers of Wilkes County Schools, they are listed below:
  • West Wilkes, Eric Maggio, Athletic Training Coordinator
  • East Wilkes, Elliot Vogler
  • North Wilkes, Britteny Weisensel
  • Wilkes Central, Grant Yarborough

Focus on Curriculum was presented by Dr. Donna Cotton, Chief Academic Officer. State Superintendent, Catherine Truitt, introduced her strategic vision for North Carolina education in April of 2021. Mrs. Truitt is building a statewide "portrait of a graduate" to be used by districts and schools to frame local efforts and define student success. The portrait of a graduate will be informed by business, external stakeholders, and higher education sector leaders, approved by NCDPI senior leadership and by the NC State Board of Education, and will be ready to deploy in fall 2022. The portrait of a graduate that is created by Superintendent Truitt will act as a starting point for education initiatives and, as stated above, will help us to define student success.
Wilkes County Schools has begun to develop our own portrait of a graduate as a way to critically look at our successes and our areas of needed improvement in preparing our students for their post-secondary future. Wilkes County Schools consistently reviews all data we have on our graduating seniors, we review course offerings, support services, and many other areas of learning and instruction. We consistently ask, “Are we preparing our students for success after high school?” and look for ways to improve. We will be collecting data and refining our portrait of a graduate over the next several months. Dr. Cotton went over the process and ways that data will be collected and reviewed as we move forward.

Chairman Mr. Rudy Holbrook asked if anyone had signed up for Public Comments. No one signed up.

On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the regular minutes for February 7, 2022, and the Special Called Meeting Minutes for February 15, 2022, was approved as presented.

On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the Personnel Report was approved as presented.

Resignation(s) and/or Retirement(s)

Alecia Prevette – Teacher – Roaring River Elementary School

Retirement effective – April 1, 2022, with twenty-six years and four months of service

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mr. Walker and duly carried, the field trips were approved as presented.
School Group Destination Dates
North Wilkes High School Chorus Classes
Charlotte, NC
East Wilkes High School Softball Team
Greenville, NC
Wilkes Central High School WCS HS Students

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Budget Amendment was approved as presented.
State Public School Fund:  Increase $1,686,993.00

On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the Audit Services Contract for audit fiscal year 2022 was approved as presented. Mr. Travis Hardee with Strickland Hardee has been the managing auditor for our engagement since fiscal 2016. In fiscal 2021, our final audit cost was $37,500. That was after an amendment of $6,000 due to having to audit two more federal programs. Spending thresholds dictate the amount of auditing that has to be done. We have reviewed spending through January 2022 and at this time we do not anticipate having to audit the same amount of major programs as we did last year. As a result, we anticipate the audit cost to be lower than it was last year. Strickland Hardee has submitted an audit cost of no more than $33,500 for up to two major programs. We have written the contract in such a way to notate what the cost will be if we have to do additional auditing.

On a motion by Mrs. Huffman, seconded by Mrs. Caudill and duly carried, the AHERA Proposals were approved as presented. Proposals were opened at 4:00 PM Tuesday, February 15th, for Asbestos abatement at C. B. Eller (K-2 Wing & Dining Room), East High (Media Center Lobby), and Mt. Pleasant (1950 Building). Contaminant Control, Inc. (CCI) was the apparent low bidder at $51,300.00. CCI is a very reputable company and has worked with many school districts across North Carolina.

On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the Preferred Equipment Alternate was approved as presented. Over the next two years, we will be taking proposals for construction and HVAC renovations. We are acquiring permission from the Board to list Bard equipment as a preferred alternate on package HVAC units used indoor and outdoor for individual classrooms. This would be in addition to our normal bid process listing three similar types of equipment. Wilkes County Schools used Bard equipment in the early 1990s in efforts to get air conditioning in every classroom. These units have proven themselves over the years as they still serve those classrooms. School maintenance staff like the ease of working on them, and the newer, updated, and more efficient replacement units will fit back in the same locations without additional masonry work.

Mr. Byrd provided a brief update on the COVID-19 pandemic. "As you are well aware, Senate Bill 654 requires Local Boards of Education to review their local mask mandates monthly and to make decisions to continue or discontinue moving forward. At our August 2, 2021 meeting, the decision was made to begin the year with making masks optional for students and teachers in our buildings. At our emergency called meeting on August 30th, the decision was made to follow the guidelines of the StrongSchools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) and require masks for all students and staff inside of our buildings, and we stated that this would be reviewed after 30 days. At the September 13, 2021 meeting, the decision was made to honor what we had said and honor this period that we had established. At our October 4 meeting, the board voted 3-2 to continue the mask mandate through the month of October. At our November 6, 2021 meeting, the board voted 3-2 to continue the mask mandate through the month of November. At our December 6, 2021 meeting, the board voted 3-2 against a motion to discontinue the mask mandate effective that date. At our January 10, 2022 meeting, the board voted 3-2 against a motion to discontinue the mask mandate effective that date. At our February 7, 2022 meeting, the board voted 3-2 against a motion to discontinue the mask mandate effective that date. Following the February 10, 2022 updates to the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit, our board met in a Special Called Meeting on Tuesday, February 15, and the board voted 5-0 to make masks optional on our campuses effective Wednesday, February 16. During this time, I have shared updates with the board on numbers of active cases and the numbers of quarantines of students and staff (please see the chart below)."
Week Ending Date Active Cases Quaranties
August 27, 2021 59
September 3, 2021 103
September 10, 2021 125
September 17, 2021 107
September 24, 2021 104
October 1, 2021 47
October 8, 2021 30
October 15, 2021 18
October 22, 2021 10
October 29, 2021 18
November 6, 2021 18
November 13, 2021 24
November 20, 2021 27
November 27, 2021 Schools Closed
December 3, 2021 23
December 10, 2021 17
December 17, 2021 16
December 24, 2021
Schools Closed
December 31, 2021
Schools Closed
January 7, 2022
January 14, 2022
January 21, 2022
January 28, 2022
February 4, 2022
February 11, 2022
February 18, 2022
February 25, 2022
March 4, 2022
It is the recommendation that masks continue to be optional in Wilkes County Schools, with the only exception being those who are returning to school on days 6-10 after testing positive. On a motion by Mrs. Caudill, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, the masks will continue to be optional. All members voted in favor of this decision. This will also be voted on again at our April 4, 2022 board meeting.

Chief Finance Officer, Mr. Seth Prevette, presented for discussion the revision of Board Policy 7730 - Employee Conflict of Interest. The North Carolina State Controller’s Office has requested our current policy be updated. This policy will be submitted for final approval in April.

Chairman Mr. Holbrook made the following announcements:               
  • March 21, 2022 – Third Grading Period Ends
  • March 22, 2022 – Required Workdays
  • March 23, 2022 – Fourth Grading Period Begins
Chairman Mr. Holbrook announced the next meeting to be April 4, 2022. The meeting will be held in the Arnold and Becky Lakey Boardroom located at 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina beginning at 5:30 PM.

On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mrs. Huffman and duly carried, there being no further business, the Board adjourned at 6:14 PM.
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